UFAR is a nonprofit charitable organization fighting Riverblindness. They are raising money on CaringCrowd. Recently I caught up with Charles C. Phillips to learn more about the effort; here’s what he told me:
What is the social benefit you hope to achieve with or through your crowdfunding campaign?
Imagine a child living in a village so remote he/she has no access to basic medical care, even communication with the outside world beyond the village is very difficult. Imagine many in the village are already blind and totally dependent upon children to assist with almost all of their daily needs for survival. Many adults in his/her family and other families in the village endure the constant misery of unrelenting itching , teary eyes, disfiguring, visual impairment and eventually blindness, all characteristic of onchocerciasis, also commonly known as Riverblindness. Children, 5 years of age or younger, not yet infected by the parasitic worm causing the disease that is transmitted through the bites of small blackflies living and breeding along rivers and creeks, they become full-time caretakers for their blind adult relatives. With this consuming daily engagement, these children have no time left for schooling, making them doomed for illiteracy and perpetual poverty. Once the children are old enough to start doing the types of daily chores adults do along infested rivers with onchocerciasis-carrying tiny blackflies, they will get the disease and without help, they also will eventually be blind.
The good news is that Mectizan, the only effective and safe drug approved for Riverblindness can be administered as a single annual oral dose on a community-based mass treatment setting, can indeed interrupt transmission of the parasite and achieve elimination of the disease. Administered for 10 consecutive years in endemic areas with recommended treatment coverage rates and the disease can be eliminated. The drug is free from its manufacturer who has pledged to continue providing it free as long as it’s needed for worldwide elimination of Riverblindness.
How much money are you hoping to raise and why? How much have you raised so far?
Our overall fundraising goal for 2017 is $70,000, of that $20,000 through CaringCrowd. We have raised approximately $30,000 overall and approximately $12,000 through CaringCrowd so far. These funds will be used to overcome the major hurdle to the administration of Mectizan, which is the distribution of the drug to the millions of people who need it, in order to achieve and maintain recommended treatment rates for therapeutic and geographic coverage of 80% and 100%, respectively. The majority of those needing treatment live in remote villages poorly accessible or inaccessible by motor vehicles.
The high efficacy and safety profiles of Mectizan and its convenience for a single annual oral dose regimen make it well suited for large-scale mass distribution programs in remote communities by selected individuals in rural communities trained and empowered to play a major role in managing their own health and well-being.
These Community workers (CWs) or community drug distributors (CDDs) are the backbone of the community-directed and community-based strategy for mass distribution of Mectizan for onchocerciasis and of several other drugs for other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), including lymphatic filariasis (LF), schistosomiasis (SCT), soil-transmitted helminths (STH) and trachoma (T). They are selected from within their community to lead the annual drug distribution campaign for the benefice of the community. Traditionally, CWs work as unpaid volunteers, receiving only small compensations from the people they serve. The increasing presence in recent years of other public health programs such as those for HIV/AIDS and malaria that provide relatively large incentives to their community workers has resulted in some instances in significant attrition among onchocerciasis CWs for the attractive paying or rewarding jobs. The new “Empower remote African villages to eliminate Riverblindness” approach was conceived as a way of reducing the attrition rates among our volunteers as well as to help the country and communities play a leadership role and appropriate the project as their own, for the goodness of the community by providing small incentives to the community workers.
Whom are you trying to help with your project and why?
Within the Democratic Republic of Congo we are working in more geographic regions. In addition to Katanga province we have expanded our work to the provinces of Maniema, Orientale, and Kasai Orientale.
The population we are responsible for treating has grown from just over 3 million in 2014 to over 6.2 million in 2017. We must train more than twice as many Community Distribution Workers – from 20,895 in 2014 to over 45,000 in 2017!
While the United Front Against Riverblindness (UFAR) is not changing its name, we are no longer solely focused on Riverblindness and we are not focused only on the control but the complete elimination of Riverblindness from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We are now additionally tackling other NTDs (neglected tropical diseases): including lymphatic filariasis (LF), schistosomiasis (SCT), soil-transmitted helminths (STH) and trachoma (T).
What rewards, if any, are you offering to your supporters?
Donations based – no rewards, equity or repayment
Check out the campaign:
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Press Release – Crowdfunders have benefited from a sharp increase in the amounts raised, according to new figures released today.
The State of the Crowdfunding Nation 2017 is a report produced by The Crowd Data Center (TCDC), which has tracked and analysed more than 450k crowdfunding campaigns over the past three years.
Figures for last year showed that in its largest markets, the USA and the UK, the overall number of campaigns launched plateaued, with a 17% decrease last year from a high reached in 2015.
But the average raise climbed by 22%, the average amount pledged was also up by 2% and overall successful campaigns are getting more backers – up 6%.
More than 128k campaigns were launched in 2016, down from 153,377 in 2015, and the total raised was also down – 5% – from £836m in 2015 to £796m last year.
However other markets and sectors can vary sharply, according to familiarity, maturity and the degree to which crowdfunding know-how has started to become embedded into the culture. Reports are available for all 40 sectors and most countries HERE.
CEO of TCDC Barry James explained: “Seed crowdfunding is coming of age, where startups and entrepreneurs are using the rewards model and platforms to create new businesses, products and services.
“We are still in the early adopter phase but as know-how spreads and quality is increasing so is reach and confidence, hence the rises in the average number of backers per campaign and pledge amounts. The fall in volume is most likely accounted for by a fall in ‘hit-and-hope’ campaigns, of which we ordinarily see large numbers, from project owners who ‘post and run’ so never even reach the 1% mark.
“There is chronic lack of know-how and understanding about the process, which is one of the main reasons why it is still with the early adopters,” he said.
And added: “The opportunity now is to tackle this – and, if you look to the adoption-curve this means that seed crowdfunding has the potential to treble fairly fast, within the next couple of years or so, if this is tackled, and double again from this higher level into the longer term.”
To achieve this there is much work to be done to spread and embed know-how so The Crowdfunding Center, sister organisation to TCDC, will this year be launching several new initiatives to tackle this, as well as introducing training and collaborations with business advisors, accountants, mentors and other entrepreneurial and business associations across the UK and beyond.
In addition, TCDC now has some startling data on women entrepreneurs; the Women Unbound report, produced in conjunction with PWC, will reveal the scale of the impact of the democratization of finance on women owned businesses. This report will be published in Spring 2017.
Food and Movement Brand Forms Sustainable Agriculture Partnership with Iconic Ultra Running Tribe
Press Release – Richmond, Virg. (Jan. 17, 2017) – Health Warrior, a food and movement brand that delivers nutrient-dense superfoods in radically convenient forms, announces a Kickstarter campaign for its delicious new Mexican Chocolate Chia Bar with 100 percent of the profits supporting the Tarahumara tribe. The campaign will fund sustainable agriculture projects for the Tarahumara, enabling them to revitalize their traditional farms and seed stocks devastated by recent droughts.
“We wanted to honor the Tarahumara’s inspiration and lifestyle from the founding of Health Warrior by giving back to their community, especially after the droughts hit the Copper Canyons,” said Shane Emmett, Co-founder and CEO. “It was their way of life – deeply connected to the land and movement — that helped inspire the creation of our company. We are so happy to deepen our bond of friendship, to celebrate their lifestyle and culture, and to help bring their inspiration to a broad modern audience with Operation Farm and Run.”
As chronicled by explorers throughout the centuries, and the subject of groundbreaking recent research on human evolution, the Tarahumara are some of the most powerful endurance runners in the world, despite never engaging in typical athletic “training.” Their ability to run long distances barefoot or in Huarache sandals, profiled in the best-selling book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, recently captivated modern culture. Their great secret is their lifestyle, based on a foundation of plants and joyful movement, with surprisingly little running. Their lifestyle is their training, and it was this philosophy of life, food, and movement that helped inspire Health Warrior to launch the original Chia Bar, the first bar with a superfood as the #1ingredient.
The brand quietly kicked off Operation Farm and Run with the Tarahumara in the summer of 2016, directly funding the refurbishment of a test farm with infrastructure and the labor required to cultivate chia using traditional Tarahumara farming practices. In December 2016, a group of Health Warrior team members and American runners journeyed deep into the Copper Canyons to experience the farms, food, trails, and culture first-hand during the harvest festival. The Kickstarter campaign will allow the Tarahumara to build on this early success by refurbishing more farms with strong foundations of soil replenishment, seed sourcing, labor, and basic infrastructure like hoses for irrigation.
The Health Warrior Kickstarter campaign will run through early March with 100 percent of the profits supporting the tribe. Visit http://kickstarter.healthwarrior.com to support the campaign and www.healthwarrior.com to learn more about the brand’s mission to build a stronger society through better health and sustainable food production.
Press Release – LOS ANGELES – JANUARY 24, 2017 – StartEngine announced today that it will be launching a Secondary Market for Regulation Crowdfunding and Regulation A+ shares on March 1, 2017. Investors who previously purchased shares in offerings made under Regulation Crowdfunding and Regulation A+ will be able to buy and sell those shares directly through the StartEngine platform, unlocking new access to liquidity.
Under Regulation A+, introduced by the JOBS Act, shareholders can trade their shares freely immediately after the offering has closed. Under Regulation Crowdfunding, shareholders are able to trade their shares without restrictions 12 months after the offering has closed.
Investors who purchased shares on other equity crowdfunding platforms, in both Regulation Crowdfunding and Regulation A+ offerings, will also be able to buy and sell those shares on StartEngine.
StartEngine’s Secondary Market marks an important day for the future of Regulation Crowdfunding and for democratized investing. Not only can non-accredited investors invest in companies like they never could before, but now they can sell those shares on the exact same platform.
StartEngine hopes the Secondary Market continues the platform’s mission of promoting innovation and expanding opportunities for startups and early growth companies.
Since its launch on June 19, 2015, companies on StartEngine have has raised more capital from non-accredited investors than on any other platform site in the industry. More than 10,000 people have invested over $22 million across 23 companies. StartEngine’s Secondary Market will be these investors’ first opportunity to actively trade those shares.
StartEngine’s founder and CEO, Howard Marks, believes that “giving investors the ability to sell their investment is critical for democratizing access to capital for companies. This new platform will revolutionize liquidity for secondary shares and offer a real opportunity for investors to participate in innovative companies.”
StartEngine is the premier equity crowdfunding platform in the country. It connects aspiring investors, both accredited and non-accredited, with tomorrow’s most progressive companies. StartEngine aims to revolutionize the startup business model by helping individuals invest in private companies on a public platform for the first time in history, thereby helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. Based in Los Angeles, the company was created in 2013 by Howard Marks, co-founder of Activision and Ron Miller, award winning serial entrepreneur.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Ricardo Jose Bueso has a brother named Ricardo Juan Bueso. Really. His parents did that. To some, they are known as the two Ricardos.
Perhaps it was this unusual situation that inspired Bueso to look for ways to stand out and apart, to chart a unique course. He’s traveled the world, studying business administration in Texas, completing a degree as “Chef de Cuisine” in Guatemala, teaching English in Yemen, and then studying in both Miami, Florida and Shanghai.
Two years ago, Bueso and his brother Ricardo Juan, assembled a team and began developing a unique concept in social entrepreneurship. Their model is to sell responsibly-sourced, crafted products like soaps and candles via the web (nothing unique so far–wait for it) and let consumers set the price and then give the profits above a cost threshold to charity.
John Chung, an advisor to the startup called THX, says, “THX is offering a unique product. It offers the opportunity for the consumer to donate part or all of the margin that would normally go to the retailer. The beneficiaries are the nonprofits and the consumers. THX can potentially make a big impact as each purchase gives the consumer the opportunity to direct the largest part of the cost of any product to a cause.”
Bueso explains the model this way. “The pricing structure for our products works differently than typical gross margin percentages. We purposely price our products excluding traditional markups and allow the customer to donate the margin matching the traditional retail value, or whatever amount they want.”
More simply, he says, THX sets a base price that is equivalent to a wholesale price. The consumer sets a price above that and the difference goes to charity. The markup THX charges to cover its costs and profits varies from 30 to 50 percent of the landed price.
The philosophy, he says, is not focused on profit. “Our company is driven by the idea that the brand and e-commerce platform is not a business seeking to maximize shareholder value in the form of profits, but rather a self-sustaining and practical giving mechanism.”
The inspiration for THX came from seeing the wide array of nonprofits serving South Florida and feeling a desire to help them all, especially the smaller ones that struggle for funding, Bueso says. “In our city of Miami alone, we have animal shelters, children’s hospitals, at-risk youth programs, as well as services for veterans, victims of human trafficking and the sad reality of homelessness.”
Bueso recognized that corporate social responsibility and cause marketing initiatives by larger companies often partnered with larger nonprofits, so he was looking for a way to sustainably help smaller ones.
He boasts, “Thx is the first brand to let shoppers transparently customize their impact by donating any amount to any registered nonprofit in America.”
“We have created collections of responsibly sourced, quality products that customers use every day like fragrances, soaps, candles, coffee, teas, etc., he says. “Through our platform, the customer can easily access our products and customize their impact by selecting the cause they care about the most.”
Charles Lee, the Founder and CEO of Ideation, has advised Bueso on business strategy and brand marketing. He says, “THX has strong value propositions for consumers, non-profits, and corporations that make it a win-win for everyone involved. In addition, as the company continues to grow as a new kind of social enterprise, its social impact will exponentially increase.”
Bueso understands, perhaps better than anyone, the need to stand out. He grew up as one of three Ricardos in the family–he and his brother were named after their father.
“One of our greatest challenges is being able to get our customers to fully understand the process of shopping on our marketplace,” he says. “More than ever we have to get the visitor’s attention fast and ensure their full understanding of our three-step model.”
Bueso acknowledges that there are some limitations to the model. THX can bring attention and money to small nonprofits, but, he notes, “we are not a nonprofit accountability platform.”
Chung offered some counsel for the new company to achieve success. “Like other internet dependent ideas, the critical challenge is getting the message out and for the message to stick. Operationally, THX has to offer a desired set of products (which is not easy), fulfill and deliver them smoothly.”
Lee suggests two keys will be critical to their success. “First, open collaboration with varied industries that help to shape a new paradigm for consumption and gifting, and second, unwavering commitment to stay focused on their social mission as the core ‘why’ behind their business.”
Bueso exhibits the optimism that seems to be an inherent feature among successful entrepreneurs. “Our success will undoubtedly impact the world for good. We’re on a mission to help every cause, in every city in America.”
He sees the customers as playing a key role in the new economy. “We love social enterprise and the impact that conscious consumerism is having today and we hope that our model will inspire a generation of companies to follow suit.”
Bueso is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to help accelerate adoption by more socially conscious consumers.
“We seek to be the first product brand that generates significant funds with a minimal amount of units sold. We believe this is possible because of how much we empower our consumers to support the cause that’s closest to their heart,” he concludes.
On Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 2:00 Eastern, Bueso will join me here for a live discussion about THX and its plans. Tune in here (at the top of this article) then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!
Press Release – GREAT NECK, NY. (January 18, 2017) – Sharestates, a real estate investment marketplace, has originated $275 million in loans since the platform launched in 2015, making it one of the largest real estate crowdfunding platforms in regards to originations. December 2016 was the most prolific month in the company’s history, as it surpassed $42 million in loans, nearly doubling total loan volume in just over three months.
Known for its extensive due diligence process and real estate expertise, Sharestates performs a 34-point underwriting process for each project, focusing on the borrower’s experience and the project’s economics and fundamentals. All loans originated by Sharestates are secured by the property and the personal guarantee of the borrower.
“A key to our growth has been our ability to identify safe and profitable investments that will generate higher yields than the industry average,” said Allen Shayanfekr, co-founder and CEO of Sharestates. “As the crowdfunding industry expands, we are confident in our model’s ability to maintain outstanding results for investors and generate competitive returns.”
In addition to announcing its capital commitments of $1.3 billion, Sharestates recently launched a Series A equity fundraising round through SeedInvest, a crowdfunding platform providing access to venture capitalists and angel investors looking to invest in early stage companies. The round will remain open until the end of January 2017.
Sharestates launched its full operation less than two years ago in February of 2015, and has been profitable to date. As of December 30, 2016, the company funded over 323 individual loans, returned more than $151 million to its investors with no loss of principal, and yielded a net average annual return of 11% to investors.
Press Release – WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Financial Services Member Congressman French Hill (AR-02) and House Ways and Means Committee Member Congressman David Schweikert (AZ-06) introduced H.R. 531, the S-Corp Access to Crowdfunding Act.
The 2012 JOBS Act made it easier for small businesses to raise capital by expanding Regulation A and through crowdfunding, allowing companies to more easily raise relatively small amounts of capital from a number of investors. However, restrictions placed on S corporations (S-corps)—most notably the 100-shareholder limitation—may hinder their ability to take advantage of these new avenues to raise capital.
H.R. 531 would amend the tax code to make an exception to this limitation for shares acquired through crowdfunding or small public offering provisions so that S-corps can also have access to this source of financing.
After introducing the bill, Congressman Hill and Congressman Schweikert released the following statements:
“The long-term success of any company is linked to its ability to raise the money needed to grow their operations. As House Republicans formulate our plans to restructure tax law in this country, we need to make sure that we are taking into account the problems and concerns of businesses of all sizes. This bill would eliminate a roadblock in the tax code so that all businesses can utilize these new cost-effective methods for raising capital.” – Congressman French Hill
“As crowdsourcing in capital becomes a more robust opportunity for our small businesses, archaic legacy rules need to be brought up to date for today’s capital environment.” – Congressman David Schweikert
Press Release – Seed-Crowdfunding provided 40% more funding to UK businesses and startups in 2016 than the government funded Startup Loans scheme.
According to a report by The Crowd Data Center, which has collected extensive data on 500,000 crowdfunds, this newer source of business funding is now rivalling banks, lending, angels and equity as a better way to fund new businesses, products and services, not to mention jobs and growth. And it does so without placing a debt burden on businesses and startups.
The report has been welcomed by Barry Sheerman MP, who says this finding has profound implications for UK businesses, entrepreneurs and government.
“We have defined ‘Seed-Crowdfunding’ as the use of ‘rewards based” platforms to fund the creation of new businesses, products and services” said Barry James, CEO of The Crowd Data Center. “Until now, ‘rewards crowdfunding’ as it’s often known has been mostly associated with charitable and community funding.
“Now we have the full 2016 data this makes possible a direct comparison with Startup-Loans revealing that businesses are being better funded, and at a lower risk to all involved.
“What’s more, Seed-Crowdfunding is ready to move out of the early adopter stage so, with the right support, could overtake more traditional forms of funding, trebling in size and impact over the next two or three years.”
Barry Sheerman MP commented: “I chair the all-party parliamentary group which has supported the development of crowdfunding through it’s early stages and so I can tell you that the 2016 data and this finding provide a very significant milestone with profound implications for UK businesses, entrepreneurs and government.
“Not least because while a huge investment has been made in Startup-Loans, Seed-Crowdfunding has been entirely self funding – and has huge scope for growth across the UK, without burdening taxpayers.”
And he pledged: “We will be seeking to improve recognition and business advice on this as well as additional means to support what is one of the most important of developments for UK entrepreneurs and entrepreneurialism in a generation.”
Kerrie Dorman is founder of the Association of Business Mentors. She said credible business mentors should be in the know regarding raising finance via Seed-Crowdfunding.
“We should be all over this for our clients and advising them accordingly. Otherwise we’re missing available opportunities on their behalf.”
Funds raised will benefit the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Earthjustice
Press Release – January 9, 2017 — (New York, NY) On January 20th, Inauguration Day, a group entrepreneurs will air and host the first ever Facebook Live tel-a-thon in support of the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Earthjustice. The event, called Love-a-thon, is inspired by the Jerry Lewis style tel-a-thons of the past and is meant to be a kind of counter programming to the events of the day. During the Love-a-thon and in the days following, funds will be donated to each organization via Crowdrise, the top platform for internet fundraising.
Hosted on Facebook Live from 12:30pm ET – 3:30pm ET on January 20th, the event will feature artists such as Judd Apatow, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jane Fonda, Ilana Glazer, and Edward James Olmos among others. These artists are based in Los Angeles, New York and all over the country and will be sharing stories of these organizations protecting civil liberties in the past—and demonstrating how they will continue to do so going forward.
“The ACLU is honored to be part of the Inauguration Day Love-a-thon on Facebook Live. This innovative and important event will bolster our ability, and those of the other participating organizations, to fight for what’s right in the years to come.“ Hector O. Villagra, Executive Director, ACLU of Southern California.
“Each of these organizations helps our most marginalized communities and protects our democratic norms and civil liberties every day through their work. Over the next four years, they will also each face significant challenges to their existence. The Love-a-thon efforts will bring many people together to help in those fights. “ said Alex Godin, Love-a-thon Co-organizer.
“In our 45 years of fighting legal battles, we have never backed down, and we don’t plan to do so now. Earthjustice will work overtime in the courts to hold President Trump and his administration accountable and counter the influence of polluting industries.” said Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen
Press Release – JOHANNESBURG, Jan. 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — GES Africa Conservation Fund (GACF) Launches $500,000 Crowdfunding Campaign on Indiegogo to Support Anti-Poaching Helicopter Operations in Africa.
Donors can contribute by going to the Indiegogo Website link at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/anti-poaching-helicopter-protect-african-rhinos
GACF is sponsoring a critically needed quick reaction Anti-Poaching Helicopter which will support all anti-poaching operations in the Kruger Park area of South Africa and Mozambique, thereby integrating the anti-poaching efforts to eradicate poaching of Rhino, Elephant, Lion, and other endangered animals in the region.
Privately funded anti-poaching outfits have inadequate quick response ability to respond to poaching incidents and individual reserves are unable to finance a high value asset such as a helicopter, not to mention the fact that they would also need to develop the in house capability to use these tools effectively in anti-poaching operations.
The need is critical as the fight for the future of the Rhino will be had on the Private Nature Reserves. Over forty-five (45) percent of the remaining White Rhino are under the care of Private Nature Reserves and Breeders in South Africa.
It is also essential that poachers are apprehended and poached articles recovered even after animals have been killed. This would not bring back the animals, but the recovery of the contraband starves the criminal poaching cartels of funds; funds that are being used to grow their empires of crime.
With each horn or tusk that leaves the borders of African Nations the poaching rings becomes exponentially more powerful and better equipped, elevating the problem to the point where they will become unstoppable.
GACF is sponsored by the GES Group, which operates the leading Wildlife Management operation in South Africa and protects the largest private Rhino population in the world with over 1,600 Rhinos under direct protection. GES has a social responsibility to give back to the African Continent and GACF reflect this support. GACF is a non-profit entity dedicated to protecting and preserving both South Africa’s and the world’s most endangered species. GACF was established as a direct response to international wildlife exploitation and poaching. Organized crime within the wildlife arena is crippling the animal populations as well as severely changing the face of conservation. GES applies specialized anti-poaching operations, general security, and intelligence services.